Age is No Barrier!

by The Ramblings of a Menopausal Runner, with Hilary Jones Friday, August 8 2014

So after last weekend’s achievement by Steve Way, this weekend we “oldies” have a new hero in the form of Jo Pavey, showing that age is no barrier.  At 40 (41 in September and with a ten month old baby) she took bronze at the Commonwealth Games 5,000m - in case you didn’t know!  Jo led for a lot of the race but in the final lap where it looked like it would be a clean sweep for the Kenyans, she found an extra surge on the home straight and crossed the line in third, only narrowly missing out on a silver medal.

It was while she was on the home straight that I found myself shouting at the television (not that this would have helped her)!  Usually when one of our (English/GB) athletes is performing well I find myself forgetting to breathe but I don’t usually get vocal!  As it became clear that she could get a medal, the Hampden Roar was amazing and as many athletes have said, the reaction from the crowd really does give you an extra push. 

Indeed, it happened to me during that morning’s parkrun.  One of the marshals gave me a bit of vocal (polite) encouragement and I consciously put in a bit of extra effort.  At the previous week’s run, one of my fellow runners tried to push me on towards a PB (missed by 2 seconds!).  It’s amazing what support from others can achieve although I obviously wont be getting any Commonwealth medals ;-)

My other inspirations at this weekend’s Commonwealth events included Julius Yego from Kenya who taught himself to throw the javelin by watching YouTube and won the gold medal despite injuring himself during warm up.  And Matthew Dixon, who looks about 8 but is in fact 14, who competed in the Men’s 10m Diving final alongside Tom Daley.  He’s one to watch for the future surely.  But don’t worry, I don’t intend to take up diving or javelin – (a) I don’t like heights and (b) me with a javelin would just be dangerous!

My own sporting achievement this week has been to “play” (and I use that term very loosely) tennis for the first time in probably 35 years!  Now the technique needs a bit of honing – we need to stop allowing the ball to bounce more than once between strokes and a bit of attention is required to ensuring the ball stays within the court – but we did improve over the course of our two sessions. 

The first on the Monday left me with muscle ache where I didn’t know I had muscles just a few hours later and the next morning I was thinking “this must be how people with hip problems feel every day”.  But despite my trepidations for the success of the next day’s parkrun, Friday’s session seemed to have no adverse effects.  I’m hoping all this plyometric work is going to help strengthen my legs for my running but most of all it’s a lot of fun.  I have clients who still play tennis at 70 so there’s hope for me yet!  Hey, another example of age being no barrier J


This week sees my first “yoga for runners” session which I’m really looking forward to.  I’m just hoping I’ll be bendy enough to execute some of the positions!

Author's Note : if this blog piece appears to be a bit out of sync timewise, it was published on my wordpress blog of the same name on Sunday morning! 

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Categories: Running

I'm An Addict!

by The Ramblings of a Menopausal Runner, with Hilary Jones Saturday, July 5 2014

It’s official.  After nearly a year it appears that I can’t function on a Saturday unless I’ve had my fix – my parkrun fix of course ;-)

The only things which have kept me from turning up at 9.00am on a Saturday morning, be it to run or volunteer, have been work or “social” commitments - until today.  And the culprit was a niggling ankle which has been the bane of my week.

On Monday I went out for my “long” run and about 3/4k in I started to notice a bit of a niggle down the lower left hand side of my leg but being a runner and, remembering Sakyong Mipham’s words that pain is temporary, I carried on and the pain was indeed temporary.  It wore off and the rest of the run and day passed without incident.

The next morning, however, I was reduced to going downstairs one step at a time, hanging on to the wall for balance.  Not a good sign!  I’m used to my legs being a bit stiff in the mornings nowadays but this was a bit extreme, and the stiffness does usually wear off pretty quickly.  Not this time though.

So the ancient pack of frozen vegetables and the Jointace Gel have been in constant use ever since and although the discomfort has receded a little, there’s still a niggle.  Then yesterday I had a brainwave and decided to dig out the Skins compression socks I’d used a few years ago to overcome sore calf muscles.  So I’ve been wandering around the house and garden with socks on.  Yes, socks plural, but both on one leg – double compression for a speedier recovery, surely!?  So sad am I that last night I even went to bed with the socks on. 

I had fully intended to turn up for parkrun this morning, even if it meant hobbling around the course but the overnight rain left me envisaging tragedy on the back of the course where there’s a steep downhill uneven but fast bit of track.  I imagined slipping on a bit of stone and doing untold damage to my foot which would lead to the end of my running “career” (you all know how night time exaggerates your imagination!!).  Although to my defence I do know another parkrunner who’s come a cropper on that stretch so it wasn’t totally beyond the bounds of possibility.

So I decided to be sensible and put my run on hold.  I did think about just turning up and hoping for a bit of marshalling duty but the self same rain put paid to that!  And that decision made, I’ve been feeling very sorry for myself ever since – I have in fact felt bereft!   My Saturday morning routine has been out of kilter – parkrun, home, shower, coffee, reward croissant, Saturday Kitchen – gone!  Okay, from “shower” onwards remained intact but there was no calorie burning in the bag to work off that croissant!

In an attempt to alleviate the leg situation I have been to the gym to use the grid foam roller and the power plate and so far, so good, only the odd twinge.  I shall keep off the running probably now until mid week and then re-evaluate the situation but if anybody has any ideas as to what it might be, I would welcome any feedback!  My self diagnosis at the moment is tendonitis!!


In the meantime, I’m hoping I’m in tiptop condition for next week’s parkrun fix– I have my eye on a 50 t-shirt but I still have 14 runs to go!

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Categories: Running


by The Ramblings of a Menopausal Runner, with Hilary Jones Sunday, June 29 2014

It may well be the food of love but is it the food of runners?  Oooh, controversial Jones!  For some time now I’ve been intending to blog about music and running and hey, here it is!

If you’d asked me a year ago about running and listening to music, I’d have said, yes, definitely, I can’t run without it.  I need the beat to keep me going and deter the boredom factor.  I would have freely admitted that after a run I couldn’t have told you what I’d listened to but I would have been adamant that I couldn’t have done it without the music. 

Dr Costas Karageorghis, a renowned sports psychologist at Brunel University, would probably have agreed with me.  He was involved with the Run to the Beat Half Marathon which proudly promoted itself as “London’s music half marathon”.   The idea being that live music would be staged at numerous locations around the course to encourage the participants in their endeavours.  Except the year I did it (also the first year of the event), it rained before, during and after and I think I remember passing only two bands on the course.  Were the other bands prevented from appearing because of health and safety concerns, because they didn’t want to get their hair wet or was it just the fact they didn’t want to get up early on a Sunday morning, possibly after a gig the night before!?  Who knows, but it was so wet on that run my MP3 player eventually drowned about half way around so I had limited musical accompaniment!

In any event, until around this time last year I have always run with music but then along came parkrun.  As I didn’t know the etiquette on my first run, I took my music with me but in the end I was so keen to know what was going on, it remained in my pocket!  And it’s stayed there on a parkrun Saturday morning ever since. 

Then last September I took part in the BUPA Great Yorkshire Run in Sheffield and because I had a running buddy on that occasion, it would have seemed rude to stick my earphones in, especially as he had sacrificed his race for my benefit (see here for more details) .

The following month I ran the Givaudan Ashford 10k – another very wet run and absolutely no point in risking the life of my iPod nano (yes, we’d progressed from an MP3 player courtesy of The Daily Telegraph). 

The next run was the Paddock Wood Half back at the end of March and this event was promoted as a “music free” run.  In fact if you were caught wearing headphones you would be excluded from the race.  So on this occasion I had no choice.  Bit daunting, 5k and 10k without music had been bearable.  How would I cope during a half?  Perfectly well, as it turned out.  I even had a little chat with another runner on the way round.

And now, when I go out for my “training” runs, I very rarely take any music with me (possibly partly due to a lack of pockets during the warmer weather!).  I think I may have been partly influenced by a book I read following a reader review in Runner’s World – “Running with the Mind of Meditation” by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche (I shall be blogging about this book at some point in the future).  I would thoroughly recommend the book to anyone who runs.  Unlike the reviewer, it has not made me run any faster (yet) but it has made me look at my runs differently (but more of that another day). 

Anyway, I digress!  Not like me, I know!  So what am I trying to say?  I suppose if you think you can’t run without music, give it a go.  You might be surprised and by the sounds of it, you might have to get used to it!  At last week’s Amba Hotels City of London Mile, while waiting for the start, we were advised that music was not allowed and I was surprised to hear them announce that all organised runs except parkrun are now music free zones – really?  Has anyone else heard that?

Another benefit I have personally discovered during “quiet” runs is you seem to get more respect from other runners/walkers/dog walkers/cyclists if you’re not wearing earphones.  And, if you’re deaf to the world during an organised event, you’ll find you miss the humorous quips and friendly encouraging banter from other runners.


What do you think?

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Categories: Running

The Potential for Chaos/The Amba Hotels City of London Mile

by The Ramblings of a Menopausal Runner, with Hilary Jones Sunday, June 22 2014

Today I took part in my first 1 mile run.  Before the race I had misgivings about the potential smooth running of the run.  They can be seen in the following extract which is followed by my race report.  Anyone wishing to see my photos should go to


This Sunday sees my next run, the inaugural  Amba Hotels City of London Mile.  The clue here is the word inaugural, this means it has the potential for chaos.  I don’t wish to demean all the hard work of the organisers and I hope I’m wrong but past experience (AKA the inaugural Run to the Beat Half Marathon) tells me this is a possibility.  Time will tell. 

This sense of foreboding is probably exacerbated by the fact that race packs could be collected from the Run Fast store in Leadenhall Street on the Friday before the run (ie, today).  All very well if you work in the City and hadn’t taken Friday off to recover from your post England match celebrations/commiserations – delete as appropriate.  Yes, I know we now know the score but the options still apply depending on whether you’re a football fan or not!

Anyway, back to the run.  The only other option is to collect your race pack on the morning of the run.  I have visions of runners (me included) wandering lemming like around the race village trying to attach their numbers and chips and drop off baggage all before collecting in their wave group and heading off to the starting pen.

To be fair, when this run was first announced you had to pay to enter but several months ago it was announced that the run would now be free to make it inclusive for everyone.  As a result, keen people like me who had already paid have had their money either refunded or donated to the official charities.

I have donated my fee towards my entrance fee for next year’s BUPA London 10000 – now there’s a run you know will go like clockwork.  Apart from the fact that this run is now a firm regular in my running calendar, next year offers the possibility of a different route as the usual route may be disrupted by the Cycle Super highway construction due to take place during 2015.

Because the run starts in the heart of the City, my travel arrangements mean I’m going to have to alight the train at London Bridge and walk to the start.  This probably means I’ll be walking further than the run itself!  But at least my muscles should be warmed up. 


I will report back on whether chaos ensued or whether I was proved wrong, and any other exciting incidents after the weekend.


Well I have to take back all my doubts; for a first attempt, that run was incredibly well organised and great fun to take part in.  I shall definitely be back next year (legs permitting).

Saturday found me wondering whether I’d perhaps under estimated the calibre of this run and whether I was going to be running with Sir Roger Bannister wannabe’s.  I began to feel seriously under-prepared, I’ve never taken part in a run shorter than 5k and here I was attempting 1.6093k.  The distance is not so much the issue, it’s the anticipated speed it’s likely to entail. 

After a typical runner’s pre race poor night’s sleep, I got up this morning to find my left foot had decided it didn’t want to take part.  For some reason, every step was painful and it was the top of my foot which was causing problems, not my Achilles nor my plantar fascia!  It did eventually wear off but I was a bit worried about what would happen when I started to run.

Despite a few travel obstacles (weekend engineering works!), I managed to get to London in plenty of time and enjoyed a leisurely stroll across London Bridge and down towards the start line.  I thought it wise to now try out my left foot’s running capabilities (probably a bit late really, I should have done that before I left home) and I did a few casual jogs towards St Paul’s Cathedral in an attempt to warm up.  There weren’t too many people around at that time so I didn’t feel too out of place.

Once I got to the race village the number collection point was fairly easy to find and there were no queues!   I collected my pack and some kind staff member even offered to hold my pack while I attached my number.  I then went and sat in a park by St Paul’s and attacked social media before heading back to the finish area.  Announcements were made about the first wave being about to start and I calculated that I should be able to watch the first finishers come home before I headed out for my wave assembly area.   The clock by the finish line and the announcer kept us informed of progress and I caught sight of runners in the distance.  It was another minute before they came around the corner and headed for home so we all clapped and cheered as they crossed the line in a little over 4 minutes.

My wave, the 7 to 10 minute group, were led from the assembly area to the start line just in front of St Paul’s and we gathered there in the morning sun to wait.  We were given regular updates on how long until we would start and then all of a sudden the gun went and we were off.  This is probably the closest I’ve ever been to the start line in a run (apart from parkrun).  Usually the only sign that the run has started for me is that people start to move forward slowly and then gather pace as the starting gantry approaches.  This time it was bang and go!!  I put my best foot forward (yes, my right one!), checked my watch had started and went for it.  The pain should all be over in 10 minutes time, I thought! 

I have a mile marker for when I run from home so I tried to imagine I was following that route so I knew I would soon be at the finish.  As a result I promptly missed a sightseeing tour of the Bank of England and the Guildhall amongst other icons.  

Although I had thought that this was probably the only time my habit of going off too fast was going to do me a favour, I quickly realised I’d gone off ridiculously fast, so I reined it in a bit.  For some reason at no point in that run did I look at my watch to check my pace.  So as we turned from King Street on to Cheapside and towards the finish, I caught sight of the finish line clock.  S**t, it was saying 07:12.  Apart from being amazed and thinking that can’t be right, it also put a bit of pressure on.  I can finish this in under 07:30 so head down and go for it – even though there was a slight incline!  I’d clocked that while watching the finish of the first wave.  As I crossed the line I was fairly sure I’d done it but it wasn’t until later in the day that I discovered I’d done 07:27. 

I’m so glad I didn’t look at my watch, I think the pace and distance readings during the run would probably have told me the sensible thing would have been to slow down and I proved I didn’t need to.  Before the run I was hoping that I’d be able to complete the mile in just under 9 minutes so that result has left me a very happy bunny!

The run finish was just as well organised as the rest of the event, my chip was removed promptly and my goody bag handed over.  It was even possible to leave the race area without having to go miles out of your way.  Mind you, I did stop off at the Mizuno stand and buy a new pair of trainers, my third pair of Wave Inspire 9 and yet another colour combination (and 25% off)!

Perhaps one of the reasons for the event’s success was because there were only around 2,000 people taking part and there were 13 different waves – including some mad fools who had just completed the inaugural Hackney Half and had come along to “cool down” by running another mile!


So all in all, I have to say I was very impressed and I felt compelled to pass on my congratulations to the organisers.  I shall now be incorporating some sprint work into my training so that this time next year I can beat my new PB.

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Categories: Running

Messing About on the River (or to be more precise, the Lake!)

by The Ramblings of a Menopausal Runner, with Hilary Jones Thursday, June 19 2014

I think I might have to change the title of my blog, perhaps to “Ramblings of a Menopausal Runner Who’s Suddenly Decided to Try as Many Sporting Activities as She Can in the Shortest Possible Timeframe” – catchy, or not?!

This week – kayaking!  I’ve never tried this before but I have to say it was fun even if I did end up with a blister on my thumb.  And I didn’t even fall in.   I went around and around in circles for a while until I mastered the necessary steering skills but after that it was a case of paddling hell for leather as my friend, Alex, and I made our way around the perimeter of Leybourne Lakes.  It is the intention one day to swim around the perimeter but yesterday we settled for a more leisurely cruise in an open kayak. 

There was the obvious humming of the Hawaii Five-O theme tune at one point as we sped across the water trying to mow down any swimmers who got in our way, we even attempted to race one swimmer (he was completely oblivious to the fact) and we won!

At the furthest point away from the landing stage and the watersports centre, we discovered a gap in the trees and a passage of water that takes you into another lake.  There weren’t any “do not enter” signs so we casually glided through the gap into new territory.  Not much happening here, just a few swans seeking shelter from the swimmers and model boat enthusiasts, and us!   As we continued circling the perimeter of this smaller lake, I suddenly noticed a man appear amongst the trees on the bank.  He didn’t say anything, he just stood there, looking ....  I think we both clocked him at the same time but decided (a) there was safety in numbers, (b) we were in the middle of a lake and (c) he didn’t appear to have a kayak secreted about his person.  So we carried on paddling and when we turned to come back, he’d gone.  Phew! 

We spent a few more minutes pootling around this “secret” lake and then decided to head for home, mainly because we didn’t want to go past our hour and incur extra costs!  Just as we passed through the gap there he was again, standing on the water’s edge, looking ....  This was all getting a bit Blair Witch Project so we put our foot down (or whatever the equivalent is in kayaking) and sped off towards safety.

During our return, Alex advised me that she would quite like to have a go at white water rafting.  I said “no way” - seem to remember I said that when she first asked me about open water swimming, oh well!   I was also fairly confident that we wouldn’t find anywhere to do that within reasonable travelling distance until I remembered Lee Valley and the Olympic legacy.  Please, no one tell Alex!

I would thoroughly recommend kayaking to anyone wanting to tone up their arms, strengthen their core or desiring a wet bum!  It’s a fun way to exercise, even when it’s raining!

Our next intrepid adventure is acquiring another open water swimming licence, this time to be used at Holborough Lakes in Snodland.  This lake is a flooded chalk quarry complete with terrapins, adders and other assorted marine life.  We have an assessment booked for tomorrow afternoon with Nemes Diving & Watersports Academy and I have even invested in a new item of clothing especially for the event - a shortie websuit. 


In the not too distant future we plan to have a go at tennis.  It must be a few decades since I personally tried that one so with my eye/hand/ball co-ordination, there could be an awful lot of running around to pick up said ball!  Also I think with the start of Wimbledon next week we may have to wait a few weeks for the sudden enthusiasm for tennis to wane!  Watch this space!

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Categories: Running


by The Ramblings of a Menopausal Runner, with Hilary Jones Thursday, June 12 2014

So the running is carrying on as normal, nothing startling to report but how’s the open water swimming going Jones?  Dare I say it, swimmingly!!!

Yesterday was my fourth visit to Leybourne and we arrived to find the water was a very tepid 19.8 degrees.  So warm in fact that Paula at  persuaded me to go for a “shorty” summer wetsuit.  Now adorning a full length wetsuit with a carrier bag is amusing enough.  This produced mass hysteria!  A true Goldilocks moment!  The first wetsuit went over the legs fine and even my arms managed to slide in relatively easily.  It was just the fact there wasn’t enough neoprene in between and my guffawing from inside the cubicle attracted Alex’s attention.  I’m so glad she didn’t have her camera handy for that little episode.  Paula very diplomatically selected an alternative but this suit was so big the mythical Leybourne pike could have come in to join me for a cosy swim.  Luckily the third suit was more successful – it fits!  (Just need the Prince Charming now!)

So suitably attired, we set out for our “swim”.  The first 750m lap took us about 45 minutes – bit too much chatting going on I think!  And perhaps because of the warm weather there were a lot of other swimmers around.  I have to be honest, I felt a bit like the last one at the race again and we need to discover what the etiquette is when you suddenly realise there’s a top notch swimmer heading towards you like a seal.  Is it your responsibility to get out of the way – quick?  Not easy if you’re not a strong swimmer.  Or is it the ace’s responsibility to take action to avoid a mid-lake collision?

Having been shamed by our 45 minute lap, we decided to “go for it” second time around – we managed to knock off 15 minutes and there was very little chatter that time around.  And although I did manage to get a little braver at putting my head under the water, my technique was all wrong.  In fact, I’m a bit like an upside down swan – my arms glide serenely under the surface but on top there’s a hell of a lot of thrashing legs – okay maybe only two thrashing legs but it probably looks like a lot more.  At least there’s no danger of those on land wondering where I am!  I think this poor technique might be partly due to me trying to go as far as possible before needing to come back up for air.  Anyway, after our two 750m laps we decided to finish off our session with a leisurely swim out to the catamaran and back, approximately 200m.  So in total we managed just over a mile in an hour and a half – if we were running, that would have taken around 10 minutes - even with some chatting!!!  There’s a long way to go before I even consider a duathlon.

As we emerged from the water through a group of basking seals - I mean swimmers - I couldn’t help but earwig on their discussions about their recent triathlons.  Why, when asked, do we always seem to prefix our achievements with “I was ill the week before”, or “my hamstring/knee/quads/back/etc has been playing up”.  Why can’t we just be proud of our achievements and appreciate the fact we could take part at all?  Here I am going back to my “the seduction of inadequacies” post   Mind you, I’m guilty of doing it too so I shouldn’t criticise, I just found it amusing.

Once the wetsuit had been shed (much easier with a shortie, I managed this without any danger of falling over), we sat in the sun for a while and watched the fluffy ducklings preening themselves at our feet.  Rather predictably discussion turned to feeding orange slices to them, picking cherries and the merits of crispy Chinese food.  The ducklings though seemed rather unperturbed!  Mummy and Daddy duck need to give them a few life lessons!

So next week the plan is to try out the kayaks.  And lifejackets will be worn!  They’ve got to be easier than wetsuits, surely!?

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Categories: Running

The Goody Bag

by The Ramblings of a Menopausal Runner, with Hilary Jones Sunday, June 1 2014

This time last week I was perusing the contents of the goody bag distributed after the BUPA London 10000 run.  There is much debate on runners’ forums/magazines about the merits of a goody bag but personally I like them, it’s a reward for all my “hard” work.

The contents of this particular goody bag were generally fine but there was just one item which made me ponder. 

Obviously there’s my medal, nice one this year with a map of the route and the actual run date.  I will have to delve around my collection to see if previous years’ medals had so much detail but I think not.

A nice screwed up finisher’s T-shirt, good for providing layers when the colder weather comes back.

A couple of BUPA leaflets offering discounts on specific services including fitness assessments.  I thoroughly recommend this particular assessment.  The one I had last year was worth every penny – oh, no, I didn’t pay for it did I!  The Daily Telegraph did!  Oh well, if I had that sort of money splashing about, it would be worth every penny!  I certainly came away feeling pleased with myself.

 A leaflet promoting next year’s Edinburgh Marathon.  I have been told that I should endeavour to “do” a foreign marathon at some point in my life.  If the independence vote goes the right (or wrong) way, would Edinburgh be considered a “foreign” marathon?

A bottle of sports drink and a bottle of water, one consumed very rapidly, the other still languishing in my fridge.

Various sweets/biscuits/cereal samples to help replenish the carbohydrate stores.  I’m sorry but no one’s ever going to persuade me that Belvita biscuits are tasty, the yoghurt based ones remind me of custard creams and I never liked them as a child.  Today’s I think was supposed to be chocolate chip – there were brown lumps in it anyway!  And why was there a pack of something called “Alpha Bites”?  Presumably these sample packs were geared towards runners with children because I don’t generally have time to check out my spelling abilities when I’m having breakfast, I’m usually in too much of a hurry to get out the door on time.

A bottle of alcohol free beer from Bavaria.  The tin is so small, a couple of swigs should probably finish it off.

A sample of Jointace Gel – gotta love a bit of Jointace Gel, I swear I get a bit high on the smell of eucalyptus.

A bottle of chocolate (non dairy) milk – is it supposed to have lumps in it?  The use by date is okay and I know everybody swears by chocolate milk for recovery but I’m a bit worried I would have to cancel the following day’s clients if I tried it because I’ve got the chocolate milk squits!!

And finally, the pièce de résistance – a sample of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce, handily attached to a recipe card for spag bol.  What did you think I was going to do, dash home from the run and cook an Italian meal?!  There’s usually something salty in the goody bag to encourage you to drink and therefore rehydrate but I’m hardly going to sit on the train swigging Lea & Perrins!?  Please don’t think I’m being ungrateful, I love all my little gifts but this one was just a little strange.

Anyway, might as well mention the run while I’m here.  I won!! 

No, you’re right, I didn’t but I did achieve both my goals.  Over 2 minutes off last year’s time to get a new course PB of 56 37 and I didn’t walk.  My pacing strategy didn’t quite go according to plan but it was more or less correct.  I admit it did get a bit tough towards the end but I refused to give in.  I think the first time I did this run I had to walk about 500m before the end - that was not happening this year!  And I saw Mo even though he wasn’t running.  He started the run as he had decided to give someone else a chance to win.

So now I’m in training for my next run – the City of London Mile – in June!  I think the walk from the station to the start will be longer than that but it’s the inaugural run and I like being in at the start of things.   And you might think, but that’s only a mile!  True, but the challenge is on getting a really good time and then collapsing in a heap once past the finish line.  Or it will be for me anyway!




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Categories: Running

Progress (or not) Report

by The Ramblings of a Menopausal Runner, with Hilary Jones Saturday, May 24 2014

It’s been a few weeks since I posted anything on my blog, probably a reflection of the fact that not a lot of running has been undertaken.  My last post was about my open water swimming Brownie badge, I mean assessment!  And I’m glad to say that we have been back – twice!  And the even better news is that the water is getting steadily warmer.  We’re hoping that, by the end of the summer, wetsuits will no longer be required and the bikinis can come out – joke!

So since the initial assessment new fluorescent swim caps and replacement goggles have been purchased and we have been venturing further and further out into the lake at Leybourne.  We have also been swimming with the ducklings who don’t seem at all put out by the sight of fushia pink or electric blue human heads bobbing up and down around them.  There is something rather edifying about being surrounded by nature while you “exercise” whether it be the geese flying overhead or the ducks gliding smoothly by.  Mind you, whose legs are paddling more frantically under the water – theirs or mine?!

Anyway, back to the running, or lack of it!  Injury is not to blame, nor time and opportunity, not even enthusiasm.  It just seems like the past few weeks have been “low mileage” weeks.  And I know downtime is advised and can often result in renewed vigour – let’s just hope tomorrow proves this to be the case.  For tomorrow brings my next run, the BUPA London 10,000.  Fourth attempt and fingers crossed, this one will be my best yet.  Goals – PB and no walking – although I am just a little worried about the incline as you come up from the underpass on to the Embankment at around the 7k mark.  I seem to remember this was my undoing last year.  Still, I have my pacing plan in my head and I practiced it on Monday, albeit only up to the 7k mark, but hopefully I can carry it on to the end.

And this year, I will not be running against my foe – Mo!  He’s chickened out of our annual meet.  Apparently Mo has only just started “jogging” again after his marathon a month ago.  Let’s be honest, even if he did jog it, he’d still beat me!  But I shall miss seeing him as I set out on my run and he concludes his.  Hopefully he’ll be back next year but in the meantime I look forward to passing Chris Thompson and Andy Vernon.  Yes, alright, passing as in going in the opposite direction! 


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Categories: Running

Leybourne Lakes - The Plunge!

by The Ramblings of a Menopausal Runner, with Hilary Jones Saturday, May 10 2014

For this blog to make any sense (?!) you probably need to read Part One which can be found here  

What follows is what happened next!  And be very grateful there are no photos of me in a wet suit included because some do exist :-(


Wednesday afternoon found me standing in a Kentish lake in a wet suit up to my armpits in freezing water.  It reminded me of some song lyrics, notably Clean Bandit’s Rather Be – “We’re a thousand miles from comfort”.  Okay, maybe not a thousand but certainly ten.

The long journey to the lakes at Leybourne was accompanied by a fair amount of nervous joking between Alex and me, although my “let’s go right around this roundabout and back again” wasn’t necessarily a joke. 

En route Alex informed me that wet suits don’t actually keep you dry.  The idea is to allow some water inside the suit to build up a warm barrier between you and the cold water outside.  I was also enlightened on one of the methods of sourcing this “barrier” and it’s only because I’ve had this fact subsequently confirmed by a few other people that I’ve realised it wasn’t just Alex winding me up!

I had spent most of Wednesday morning dashing up and down stairs to the loo because I knew I would have a few problems needing a wee in a wet suit – I needn’t have bothered!  Because, dear reader, apparently it is perfectly acceptable to wee in your wet suit.  In fact, it is positively encouraged because this helps to provide the warm barrier!!

So we arrived at the water sports centre and I was trying to appear quite nonchalant, “Oh yeah, I do this sort of thing all the time”.   Then I encountered the first problem - adorning the wet suit.  Paula from the centre sorted out our suits and then started to tell us how it’s much easier to put the suit on if you use a carrier bag.  Now Alex appeared to know exactly what she was talking about while I was looking around trying to find the hidden camera.  She’s definitely winding us up isn’t she?  Alex goes off to her cubicle while I have to confess that Paula’s really going to have to run that by me again, I really am having problems trying to visualise what she’s saying! 

Ah ha!  Once she’d demonstrated it all made perfect sense!  You put the bag over your foot and then it slides into the suit much easier.  What she didn’t say was that having inserted one leg into said suit, it’s a bit of a nightmare trying to retrieve the carrier bag while standing on one leg in a slippery floored two foot square cubicle without falling over.  God my core muscles must be strong!!

Suited and booted and clutching our fluorescent coloured swimming caps (so we can be spotted out at sea, by satellite and more importantly by the safety boat), we emerged into daylight and met up with the other three intrepid open water novices.  We perched on a bench for our initial safety talk. Amongst other things we learned was that a half Mobot indicates we’re okay, whilst a frantic wave while floating on our backs means we aren’t!

Finally we ventured very slowly into the water, having been informed just beforehand that its 14.5 degrees today.  “Oh goody!” I thought.  When we were here last week it was only 13.5 degrees!  A whole degree warmer!!!  We gradually crept further and further into the lake, legs first, then body and then we had to dip our head in the water – aaaaargh!  And during all this our instructor was explaining how best to focus on the buoys and how in some parts of the lake you will find yourself swimming over the boat with the skeleton on board or possibly the rusty car.  I think it was at this point that my mind fleetingly thought “I don’t want to do this, I think I want to get out.”  But I faced my fears and we set off in convoy for the first buoy and then trod water waiting for everyone to catch up – okay, they were waiting for me to catch up!  It didn’t seem to matter how many strokes I’d done, I just didn’t seem to be getting anywhere.

And so it continued, we swam from buoy to catamaran to buoy to jetty and then it was all over.  We were now both “Approved Open Water Swimmers” for Leybourne Lakes Watersports Centre.  We have ID cards to prove it and to allow us back in.  Whoop, whoop J

Disrobing was every bit as awkward as putting the suit on although this time carrier bags were not required – except to put my wet swimming costume in!

Then the big question arose on the short journey home.  Were we going back?  Hell, yes!  I’ve just invested in a bright pink swim cap – I did threaten to get the Peppa Pig version but I think I might have been going on my own.  So we are prepared to brave the cold, Weil’s disease and Swimmers Itch (?!!) and our plan next time is to combine a morning run around the lake followed by a swim in the lake, ie, a duathlon but in reverse.

One final word of warning - be prepared for possible further instalments of our Leybourne Lakes adventure J



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Categories: Running

A Week of Firsts - Most of Them Run Related

by The Ramblings of a Menopausal Runner, with Hilary Jones Saturday, April 26 2014

Sunday - logged my first run on The Running Bug, looks like it could take over from Jantastic! - give it a look.

Monday – I discovered I have a black toe nail, presumably a leftover from my half marathon a few weeks back.  Yes, I do look at my feet regularly and I wash and moisturise them too but my pinkies seem to hide away under the little piggys “who had none” so I hadn’t noticed.  (I do also cut my toe nails in case you were wondering but I had done them just prior to the half.)  So now I have a real runner’s badge of honour. 

Tuesday – I actually set my alarm to make sure I didn’t miss the London Marathon Ballot this year.  How sad!  The alarm was set for 7am but I was awake at 6am so I sat in bed with my laptop filling out my entry, made sure it was acknowledged and then went back to sleep J

Wednesday – today I did two runs in one day.  I did 6k in the morning through the activity park and then 6k in the evening on the treadmill.  This might sound very athletic but the actual intention in the morning was to run at least 10k possibly 12k but I gave up at 6k.  In my defence I did have to divert from my original planned route because I could see “yoovvs on bikes” loitering up ahead and didn’t fancy running past them, not least because the next little section involved a few trees.  So I had to turn around and go back the way I had come and that involved hills!  Don’t get me wrong, the original route would also have involved hills, just shorter and sharper hills which are over quicker.  So in the evening I decided to give it a go, do something read about but never tried.  I decided to attempt a very slow treadmill 5k at the gym which turned into an even slower 6k but at least I can now say I’m a two a day runner ;-)

Thursday – I discovered my first tan line of this year and no, not on my upper body but my lower body; my ankles to be precise.  Now men might be able to get away with socks and sandals (okay, maybe not) but women definitely can’t.  I might have to buy some fake tan to disguise the lines and then I’ll probably end up with splodgy legs instead.  But it’s a sure sign that summer’s on the way J

Friday – saw my first drug deal.  This is the non running related first!!!  Although running could have come in handy if they had turned nasty.  And no, I wasn’t buying (or selling).  I just happened to be casually sitting in my car in a Harvester car park with my mum when we observed the deals going on.  I’m thinking of asking to go into a witness protection programme!

Saturday – after 29 parkruns, my 30th took place in the rain – the first ever despite running through the winter.  I must have a happy weather genie on my shoulder on a Saturday morning.  And even then it wasn’t heavy persistent rain, just a steady drizzle which had more or less petered out by the time I’d finished.  But at least I didn’t get up, see the horrible weather and go back to bed again.



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Categories: Running

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